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Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva (1871-1955)
Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva (1871-1955)
Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva (1871-1955)
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Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva (1871-1955)
9 More
Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva (1871-1955)

'Perseus and Andromeda' after Peter Paul Rubens; Venice, Grand Canal; and Eight other compositions

Details
Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva (1871-1955)
'Perseus and Andromeda' after Peter Paul Rubens; Venice, Grand Canal; and Eight other compositions
six signed with monogram in the plate; one signed 'A. Ostrooumoff'
five colour woodcut; five woodcut; one framed
18 ½ x 13 ¼ in. (47 x 33.6 cm.); and smaller
(10)
Provenance
Collection Alexandre Djanchieff.
By descent to the present owner.

Brought to you by

Marina Nekliudova
Marina Nekliudova

Lot Essay

Printmaking may have always come easily to Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva, however, for a while it was almost not meant to be. As a child she displayed a natural interest and aptitude for engraving, carving objects out of wood and copying illustrations from books that fascinated her. And yet she gave up her course at the Central Stieglitz School of Technical Drawing due to her dissatisfaction with the teaching methods, in that students were discouraged from executing their own original compositions. In hindsight, her decision to give up wood engraving is shocking, considering she is now most well-known for her ground-breaking contribution to Russian printmaking, a world that she pioneered.
Thankfully, she was persuaded to try her hand once more by her teacher, the prolific engraver Vasilii Mate (1856-1917), who encouraged her remarkable talent and her desire to create her own original designs when she began to study at the Imperial Academy of Arts. His observation proved astute: she entered a competition with a woodcut after Rubens' Perseus and Andromeda, the finesse of which led it to be confused by the judges for a watercolour and rejected. The tenacious Ostroumova-Lebedeva sent it back and won second place, which at a time when engraving was considered a ‘minor’ art, represented an impressive feat with little comparison. The sophistication of the colour woodcut demonstrates her clear command of the medium that astounded her contemporaries, engraving the image straight onto the wood from a photograph without drawing on the wood beforehand.
While she also produced watercolours and portraits, the core of her oeuvre consists of her chiaroscuro and colour woodcuts, often of luscious landscapes that captivated her on her travels, or the melancholy cityscape of her hometown, St Petersburg. The mythologisation of Petersburg plays a central role in her oeuvre, placing a spotlight on its Petrine and neo-classical architecture, but importantly, endeavours to depict the melancholy as well as the monumental. Often the crisp lines of the woodcuts, combined with the cool, pastel colours, emphasise the sparseness of the compositions, bereft of human life, and contribute to the city's mystic aura that permeates its own cultural narrative.
Ostroumova-Lebedeva's independent and resolute spirit, that which was galvanised by the prospect of creating her own original work, is hence irrevocably intertwined with her legacy and output. Not only did she excel in an art world dominated by her male contemporaries, but in the printmaking world, which was barely practiced in Russia, hence joining an elite few who knew how to execute colour prints. Undoubtedly, this collection is testament to her artistic legacy, but also to her originality and assiduous dedication to a craft once relegated to the lower echelons of artistry that elevated it to its deserved position in art.

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